FERS retirement mode: a checklist

Mike Causey is on vacation this week and asked several readers, friends and even critics to write guest columns in his absence. Please enjoy today’s offering from Abraham Grungold, a federal employee and burgeoning financial coach in Florida:

Are you thinking about your Federal Employees Retirement System goal? Make a check list before that big day arrives. Personally, I am in retirement mode. At 60 years old and with almost 33 years of federal service, my timetable to retire is zero to three years.

Everyone has their own distinct retirement objective and this Top Ten list will prepare me to make the appropriate choices for my retirement. My decisions may be tweaked as the date grows closer, however, I will be ready and all this preparation will make for a seamless transition.

  1. What will be my monthly Retirement Annuity? Obtain an estimate of your monthly annuity, decide on a joint survivor annuity option, and obtain the calculation for your accrued sick leave to see if it will increase your monthly annuity.
  2. How much will I draw from my TSP in retirement? You will need a fixed monthly amount and the percentage of your balance paid per month.
  3. What should I do regarding Social Security? If you’re younger than 62 years old, calculate your Social Security Supplement and if you’re older, determine if you choose to take SSA or defer to a later date.
  4. What choices are needed regarding Health Insurance, Dental and Vision plans? Anticipate your future needs and Medicare eligibility choices.
  5. What choice should I make regarding Long Term Care Insurance? This is a “yes” or “no” option. Also decide whether to increase or decrease your present coverage.
  6. What choice should I make regarding Life Insurance? This is also a yes or no option. Choose a federally sponsored insurer or a private insurer.
  7. Should I use annual leave during my last year of work? Saving annual leave provides a big check in retirement.
  8. Have I checked all my beneficiary designations? Update your Thrift Savings Plan and Life Insurance beneficiaries.
  9. How much income, such as from a part-time job, will I potentially earn in retirement?
  10. What could be my tax rate in retirement, both federal and state?

This list is a good starting point for anyone in retirement mode. Once I retire, I will be helping active employees and retirees as a financial coach. Good luck!

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Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Ever wonder how those store-brand baked thin wheat “snacks” manage to taste so much like Wheat Thins? It might be because store brands usually are made by the same company, even in the same factory, as the advertised name brand. Store brands, unlike generics, are also usually sold exclusively through one particular retailer, such as Target’s Archer Farms and Walmart’s Great Value labels. Try comparing the ingredients labels.

Sources: Consumer Affairs